CONNECT WITH:

By Joe Eaton, Center for Public Integrity moneyhole

A recent federal assessment of Medicare’s fiscal health contained a shred of good news — the public health insurance program for the elderly is burning through cash at a slightly slower rate than expected. Yet declining health care costs haven’t bought much time. According to that May report by the Boards of Trustees for Medicare, the program is slated to run out of money in 2026, only two years later than previously forecast.

In order to cut costs and put Medicare on a stronger footing, many health policy experts say the program must stop covering procedures that do little to improve patient health or are not worth the price tag. But the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the agency that administers the program, has for the most part failed to implement such cost-cutting measures, because its authority is limited, cuts are controversial and Congress frequently interferes.